Posted 2 years ago | Beer, Reviews

Surly Darkness


Like most fans of any one particular beer style, I have a list of those brews that I would love to get my hands — especially when it comes to the stout genre. Many of those beers, I may never see or taste, but then again, I’m of an old-school mentality. I don’t drive a couple of hundred miles from home to stand in live for hours on end to purchase a limited one-off and I don’t trade beers online in order to procure any one coveted bottle. If a beer happens to come my way, it was meant to be.

And such is the case with this wax-sealed bottle of Surly’s 2017 Darkness. The brewery saw it in their black hearts to share one of their big (12% ABV) Russian Imperial Stouts with me and I’m eternally grateful. I can now add a checkmark to this beer on my list. But, does this malevolent looking, opaque black brew live up to expectations?

Oh, man… yes, and then some.

Darkness 2017 is rich and layered with a good bit of complexity in its abyssal depths, though it’s not really as evil as it may appear. Chocolate, espresso, raisin, distant cherries, anise, molasses and a gentle roastiness wash over the tongue with ease, leaving that Russian Imperial Stout twang in its wake. A good amount of sweetness is countered nicely with a well-rounded, moderate level of hop bitterness before fading oh-so-slowly in the long lasting and warming finish.

I’ve had some impressive stouts in my time, whether low alcohol or barrel-aged. Darkness is right up there with some of the most memorable and was surely worth the wait. Maybe, one day I’ll take those road trips and pick up those limited-release beers folks seem eager to chase. Until then, I’ll revel in the memory of peeling back the wax and sipping slowly from this outstanding stout.

This is a review of a promotional sample.


Darkness pours as its moniker suggests, opaque black with nary a head. The beer sits calmly with an edge of malevolence, a thin broken ring of brown foam hugging the inside of the class.

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